Sunday, July 16, 2006

Blogs and Self Promoting

Okay, I'm still pretty new to this whole blogging thing but when I learned that Diana Peterfreund was getting complaints on her blog , because she wasn't just talking about writing topics, but was using the blog for promoting her great book, I had to give my head a little scratch.

I mean, isn't self promotion what a blog is all about? Whether you're doing it for commercial purposes or not, if you're gabbing about something in public, you're self promoting. (or at least doing it to grab attention, even if it's anonymous)

This debate (that I didn't know existed until today) reminds me of the early days of the web. I was working at the Price Waterhouse World Firm Technology Centre at the time, which was in Menlo Park, CA just north of Silicon Valley. The place (tech centre, not Menlo Park) doesn't exist any more... which is sad because it was a very cool place to work. Anyway, most of my coworkers had Phd's in artificial intelligence and other areas of computer science and had been using the internet pretty much since they'd started university (some in the 70's). One day I asked my friend Jeff how someone like him had ended up working for a public accounting firm and he told me that with a degree in AI it was hard to get a job not involving guiding missiles... Since the internet was first used to facilitate sharing information between DOD scientists, it makes sense that these guys had used the internet for years... But I seriously digress...

My point was (I did have one) that a lot of these guys took great offense when corporations started to register domain names and use the web for commercial purposes. The first URL the tech centre had (I think we may have been the first accounting firm, perhaps first commercial entity, to have one?) was actually registered under the Stanford University URL. Those were the days when if I searched for my name on Yahoo (no google then) I'd get 4 hits and they were all about me -- academic papers I'd written etc. Now when I google my name I get 440,000 or so hits most of which aren't me... OMG. I just googled my old friend and coworker Jeff Delisio, with whom I cowrote some papers and who has a much less common name than I, and there are still links to some of my old papers! (digressing again, sorry)

Anyway, a few of my coworkers at the tech centre (or people they knew), seemed to feel that the web should only be used to:
  • make sharing academic papers easier than it had been with only ftp and

  • share cool stuff like photos and music with their friends who had the time to download stuff like that with the painfully lacking bandwidth most people had at the time.


So learning about the complaints Diana's getting on her blog took me back to 1993.

It's like as soon as a new technology catches on and people are smart enough to use it for commercial purposes, the early adopters get all up in arms. I kind of understand that... it can kind of take the fun or community feeling out of something if others use it for commercial purposes... but seriously... You can't live in the past.

Signed, Maureen...
Who started this blog largely to self-promote future books and plans to promote the books of her friends until she has one of her own. Anyone who finds that offensive, don't read my blog.

11 comments:

Kathy Holmes said...

That's so funny, Maureen! Oh, how I remember those early days of the internet - like Mosaic, for example. It's an appropriate comparison, too, with blogging. And I didn't realize you were also in Silicon Valley - my old stomping, uh, er, working grounds for many, many years.

Of course, blogging is about self-promotion. And if you're not promoting "something," you're promoting yourself in some way.

I don't see those blogging about being homeless or their teen-age angst turning down those book deals they got from blogging. :)

Maureen McGowan said...

Yup... I think I had Mosaic 1.0 on my Mac (actually a MacIvory... very cool and unique machine that made a Mac emulate a Symbolics workstation...)

Where in the Bay area did you live?

Diana Peterfreund said...

Well, i think it's that I do a lot of stuff on my blog, and people who like some of the stuff I do are pissed when I'm not doing more of the other stuff.

Me, I'm a fan of the "change channel" method of showing lack of support.

Besides, the very idea of complaining about something that has an obvious and imminent end (countdown) is so laughable.

Susan D said...

I'm trying to picture what the Blog Police could possibly do about it. Charge you with Shameless Self-Promoting without an Artistic Licence?

Marcail said...

Bang on Maureen. Elitists are menacing bullies and creativity dousers.

Michelle said...

There's a very fine line between hard sell and soft sell. If a published author has a blog, odds are that they are using it to promote their books whether that is obvious to the casual reader or not. Then again, one's blog is one's blog and one should be able to post whatever they want, be it pics of hot guys or political observances without being taken to task for it.

The blog world is an odd microcasm, as I've learned in the past couple of months. I've been trying to stick to my corner and mind my own business. ;-)

Maureen McGowan said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Michelle... What struck me as odd is that I don't think what Diana was doing was really hard sell... OK, it was all about her book release, but she's got tons of readers most of whom are very excited about her release and who were excited by the chance to win prizes...

I just didn't know the debate even existed before yesterday so was surprised...

Nancy said...

I didn't get it either. Diana's blog is fun, has a drumroll effect going on.

I have no idea why some people have to rain on another's parade.

Nancy

Kathy Holmes said...

Maureen - I was all over the place - from San Bruno to Redwood Shores to Fremont to San Jose. :)

Speaking of blogs - I tend to write about whatever's on my mind - have even treaded on politics and religion. And then there are some writers who think you should only talk about your book.

It's your blog - write about whatever you want to. :)

Gina Black said...

I spent a bunch of growing up time in Palo Alto. My Dad worked for SRI for eons (and when I google him I get his papers and his Erdos standing, which is like a six degrees of separation thing for mathematicians). Do we all have Menlo Park connections? < ggg >

At any rate, I'm of the "It's my blog and I can blog how I want to" school. No one has to visit if they don't want to. I've really had a blast with all the excitement on Diana's blog this past week. It's been like a party, which has been especially nice since I've been under the weather and it's been a bit of cheer.

What do people think blogs are? A place for public service announcements? Sheesh.

Gina Black said...

Maureen--Thanks for the blog hop and for reintroducing yourself. I am eversomuch better with faces than names, and yes, I do remember you and will be in Atlanta. Hope to see you there!

I'm adding you to my sidebar. :)

Re: Willow Road and Middlefield. I know it well. I still end up in that part of the world because my father-in-law lives right in that area and we drive by Sunset every time we go to visit.

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